Clap. Clap. Clap. You have to hand it to those crack journalists at WCCO, the CBS affiliate in Minnesota. They're doing that smart investigative journalism to bring you the dirty truth from darkest corners of America...
At least, that's what somebody thought they were doing when they reported about a Chinatown meat market that was allegedly selling dog meat. Turns out, it was actually "duck meat": WCCO Investigation Uncovers Dog Meat Sold in Chinatown! (Turns Out It Was Actually 'Duck Meat')
WCCO reporter James Schugel heard about a puppy mill that was apparently sending dogs to Dak Cheong Meat Market in New York City. So they started doing a little digging and called up the market. Imagine Schugel's surprise when someone on the phone told him, straight-up, "Yeah, we sell dog."
So WCCO sent a hidden camera to the Dak Cheong Meat Market, inquiring if the address housed a pet store. When the undercover crew was unable to find any evidence of a pet operation there, Schugel decided to call up the meat market and ask them pointblank if they sold dog meat. And this is where things got interesting.Schugel must have crapped in his pants, thinking he'd stumbled on one hell of an exposé. Not quite. Yo, the guy said "duck" -- you know, what's hanging in the window of nearly every meat shop in Chinatown -- not dog. Hell no: Chinatown meat market bit by 'err' of the dog.
Schugel asked someone at Dak Cheong if the store sold dog and the person on the other end of the phone matter-of-factly answered "Yeah, we sell dog."
"Dogs for people to eat?" Schugel asked.
"Um, yeah. We sell many kinds of meat."
Schugel asked the person to clarify his answer: "He told us that he does not sell dogs for pets," Schugel told viewers in his "I-Team" report on Monday, "he only sells them for food."
Not dogs. You have to wonder how badly the folks at WCCO wanted a story about these Chinese folks who would dare to sell dogs as meat. The station has since taken down the original story, as well as the follow-up. Probably because it's just so damn embarrassing. Good going, I-TEAM.
UPDATE: The original story is still up on WCCO's website, just back-dated and buried in their archives: I-TEAM Investigates Minnesota Dog Breeder. Unfortunately, video of the report is stilldown. But reading over the story again, it's pretty hilarious. (Thanks, Kevin.)
UPDATE: Perhaps embarrassed by the negative attention, WCCO's website keeps moving the story link. Here's the new URL (still no video): I-TEAM Investigates Minnesota Dog Breeder.
UPDATE: Okay, not this is just ridiculous. Mere hours after posting that last updated link, WCCO has completely removed the story. All right then. If that's the way it's going to be, here's the original text of the story, for your reference:
I-TEAM Investigates Minnesota Dog BreederWCCO still hasn't publicly addressed the matter, but a newsroom source predicts that "heads will roll" over this dumbass mistake. (Thanks, Kevin.)
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The owner of Minnesota's largest dog breeding operation still sold hundreds of puppies illegally, despite being convicted of animal cruelty. That's what the I-TEAM just found and when WCCO's James Schugel kept digging, things got more disturbing.
"The Canine Culture Center. Do you know anything about it," asked I-TEAM's undercover team.
"No," said the woman at a New York City meat market.
The I-TEAM went undercover in New York City to see the Canine Culture Center, but found a meat market at the same address.
And as the I-TEAM found, a worker there says he only sells dogs to eat.
Dogs walking in their own feces and a smell of urine throughout the building -- that's what an investigator with the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) found during an undercover visit to a Long Island, N.Y. pet store.
"I've been in the business like 40 years. I look at the dogs online. They come with veterinary checks," the pet store's owner told CAPS President Deb Howard.
He said his pups are "privately and family bred."
"Where do you get your dogs from?" asked Howard.
"Four different breeders and they're randomly inspected by the state. No puppy mills," said the owner.
But that's exactly where the I-TEAM discovered he's gotten nearly 600 dogs.
Federal and state documents say the supplier is Kathy Bauck, who was accused of running the largest puppy mill in Minnesota.
Two years ago, Bauck was convicted of animal cruelty and torture.
In 2008, an undercover CAPS agent recorded Bauck dunking some dogs in insecticide. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it caused the animals' trauma, behavioral stress or discomfort.
Bauck pleaded guilty to "...practicing veterinary medicine without a license," according to the USDA.
The USDA determined she was "...unfit...(to provide) humane care and treatment..." of her animals and terminated her license temporarily for two years.
But the USDA did not take away Bauck's dogs. She also kept selling wholesale despite that court order telling her not to.
"We were only going in for one. We ended up with two, because they were the most pathetic," said JulieAnn Firle and Keith Maschi, who bought two pups from that Long Island pet store last spring.
One's face is crooked, both have parasites and show aggression.
"How much have you spent on vet bills?" asked the I-TEAM's James Schugel.
"Probably around $2,000," said Firle.
The couple researched the dogs they bought and found they came from Bauck. One was at the pet store for two months, while the other was there for five months. However, it's not clear when the problems with their pets started.
"The dogs that were there when we bought these two," said Firle. "They looked worse and I had to get out of there. I couldn't stand looking at them. It was pathetic. It was terrible."
The I-TEAM found Bauck's dogs ended up in pet stores across New York City and Long Island.
The I-TEAM obtained Minnesota Certificates of Veterinary Inspection, the forms veterinarians sign once they've inspected animals that will be shipped to another state. Animal Folks MN provided these reports and others to the I-TEAM.
Between Aug. 2010 and Aug. 2011, Bauck shipped and sold nearly 1400 dogs to pet stores in a half-dozen New York cities. She also did this without that USDA Breeders license she needed to legally sell and ship wholesale.
The biggest surprise for the I-TEAM came while looking for the Canine Culture Center.
It's listed on the Certificates of Veterinary Inspection as 36 East Broadway in New York City. The I-TEAM just happened to stumble upon the Dak Cheong Meat Market at the same address.
"I'm looking for the Canine Culture Center at this address, a pet shop. Do you know anything about it?" asked the I-TEAM's undercover team.
State Inspection Certificates show Bauck sold and shipped nearly 170 dogs, mostly huskies, to this address, where the I-TEAM found the Chinatown Meat Market.
"The Canine Culture Center. Do you know anything about it?" asked the I-TEAM's undercover team again.
"No," said the woman.
The I-TEAM searched both levels of the building.
"The Canine Culture Center?" asked the I-TEAM undercover team again.
"No," said a woman on the second floor. "This is a law office."
The I-TEAM found no sign of dogs, until they called the market directly.
"Do you sell dogs?" asked the I-TEAM'S Schugel.
"Yea. We sell dog," said the man who answered the phone.
"Dogs for people to eat?" asked Schugel.
"Uh, yea," he said. "We sell many kinds of meat."
"Dogs for people to eat?" asked Schugel.
"Yes," said the man.
The I-TEAM questioned the man again, just to be clear. He said he does not sell dogs for pets. He only sells them for food.
The I-TEAM then confronted Kathy Bauck about this but she firmly denied she shipped dogs to the meat market.
"I never sold a dog for anyone to eat them. Trust me. Never," Bauck said.
She said the person she shipped to must have given her "the wrong address."
Even though the I-TEAM verified there were a dozen shipments to that address.
Bauck's veterinarian, Dr. Kathleen Marcussen, also told the I-TEAM she knew nothing about shipments to a meat market.
In a conversation the I-TEAM had with Marcussen, she said that she has never been to Bauck's farm. In fact, she told Schugel that Bauck always brought her dogs to the veterinary clinic in Staples to be examined before they were shipped. In this case, they were shipped to pet stores in New York City that Bauck claims she co-owns.
Bauck told the I-TEAM, "I was a ghost owner. It's like a secret owner. All I did was supply (pet stores) with puppies. They paid for the puppies on a contract, and that's it."
The I-TEAM pulled the Certificates of Veterinary Inspection from the state of New York for all those pet stores, but found none is listed in Bauck's name. The state also has no listing for the Canine Culture Center.
So that begs the question if she didn't own the stores, and wasn't allowed to sell wholesale to pet stores because her license was temporarily terminated, how was she able to get away with it for a full year?
The I-TEAM posed that question to the USDA.
The USDA said, "Those things don't happen lickity split. These are legal things set in motion that are not going to be instantly remedied."
Coupled with her cruelty convictions and other violations at her facility, the USDA revoked Bauck's license last month. It's now permanently taken away.
The USDA said Bauck "...obscured..." who "...truly owned..." her business. She ran it under "...various fictitious names..." and shipped to those pet stores without her license. The USDA fined her and demanded she "...sell and/or donate her animals."
Bauck recently told the I-TEAM that workers tore down her barns. She said she's done breeding and selling dogs.
"I gave them what they wanted. I gave them my life." she said emotionally by phone. "You just have no idea, none whatsoever, how much I love these dogs."
Bauck told the I-TEAM she couldn't even hurt a fly. For her dogs to be gone, she said, "It's just not right."
The I-TEAM had several conversations with the USDA about those dogs shipped to the meat market.
The government first told an animal welfare group it looked into it and found no animals in distress. But the USDA said it actually doesn't know what happened to those dogs.
The last time Schugel talked with Bauck was a few days ago and she changed her story. She said she was partnered with a Long Island pet store owner who wanted her to send puppies to the address where the I-TEAM found the Meat Market just to pick up.
However, Schugel talked with that owner on Monday and he told Schugel he hasn't done business with Bauck in more than a year.